03-02-2009 07:44 PM
I know I am late in posting to this chapter, but there are a couple of passages that I wanted to comment on before I move on to the next chapter.
As I read this chapeter, I found myself marking many passages as I chuckled and reflected on my own childhood.
How funny was it when he refers to Marcus as "a knive and fork, [who] appeared around dinnertime." (42) Clive was the friend fortunate enough to have "good-looking girlfriends, too, ... with all their teeth and everything." (54)
This chapter seems to focus quite a bit on how Benji is just trying to find himself, something that all young adults must do. He is trying to find his style, while making sure not to make too much of a statement, but for Clive, the boys were all trying to keep up with rules that changed daily, and as he looks to shore from the water, he notes that "it was unmistakable. Everybody was faking it." (66)
As far as friends go, he does have some that live on the edge. However, I can remember running with kids that I knew my parents would not have approved of. The kids on the fringe of a regular groups of kids, the ones that lived life a bit riskier than I would have dared.
A great chapter, that give the reader some real insight into Benji's character.
03-03-2009 03:43 PM
There weren't very many racial barriers for me growing up. I come from a predominantly Hispanic community and really no barriers. There were never any places in town that were off limits to us. There were places where we chose NOT to go because we were told "the element" was there.
I was a child from the '80's so it was pretty much "totally awesome" and "cool". They weren't as wild or anything as maybe the 60's and 70's.
The insults were very interesting. I think the comment about the mirror really hit their ego. But in many ways it was true. I mean they liked groups that weren't black oriented. They wore clothes and drove cars and lived in houses that weren't really indicative of their ethnicity like the BMW. Then the guy saying his mom was "sucking the white man's ....." of a "cracker from Morgan Stanley" even though his dad worked for Goldman Sachs. I think it's powerful because it shows who they really are. They realize how they are seen by their peers.
I think NP is really good with the insults. Nobody really messed with Clive because of his size. Randy was already in college. Maybe the younger kids didn't like it.
The handshake portrays the coolness and hip factor of the group. If you've mastered the handshake then you are a REAL black man.
Randy determines who can ride in his car.
03-06-2009 03:15 AM
A bit on language. Mr. Whitehead wrote this book for all the linguistic professors of the world, NOT! Although I believe this book will be very entertaining and provoke thought and be explained though numerous theories in the halls of many universities.
I do not think racial barries have disappeared, but I do believe that we are more aware of them, the word association have changed, and we understand that the old values are socially inappropriate to express. Regardless, we all create a system to label and organize our world. If we didn't, then our communication system would fail. We instill a coding system in our children when they are very young. In fact, it is very important for langauge development. Most parents will do it without being conscious of it because it is how they process the world themselves, "No sweetie, that is a truck, not a car," or "Abby is a girl, not a boy." Concept mapping is not only for HS students in science or English class, we are constantly teaching our children how to mentally map concepts into neat little bubbles and draw lines to their associations. To identify our differences, racially or otherwise, we are recognizing a unique atribute, labeling it, and adding it into our complex concept map. I am not saying that recognizing differences are bad, but it has been ingrained in our use of language, which is a major foundation to any social or cultural group, and it is a form of intellectual property rights that can expanded, shared, stolen, or reclaimed.Think of the word "bitch", it has gone though all those steps. This is also the case with **bleep**; we see NP reclaiming the word.
Which I do have to not that the first part of NP's nick name was bleeped, but not "bitch". Hmmm....shall we say more about language ownership, valuation system, and its property rights???
03-08-2009 02:16 PM
I have to say that the more I read, the more I like this book.
And the discussion topics are very good and help me get thinking more about the story.
As for the Rock and its place on the beach -- Living in Chicago, I see lots of marks in the sand like the rock. The neighborhoods, while viewed as a charming aspect of the city that I love - are also lines drawn that continue to leave Chicago such a segregated city. This segregation disappears in the loop/downtown during the work week as people of all types and backgrounds come into the loop to work. And also on hot summer days when just about everyone flocks to the beach.
I was amaze that their parents trusted them (and their friends) enough to let them stay out at Sag during the week unchaperoned. Perhaps they are good boys - but everyone has at least one friend that tempts even the best - to get into trouble.
The insults see to be all-boy - driving more substance into their rankings amongst their friends. Someone seems to always be the leader while there is always some unfortunate down at the bottom. It seems like at Sag - Benji was somewhere non-descript in the middle. Their insults were clever and definitely not something the girls would ever do. I also think they were in some ways - a term of endearment.
Then handshake - and it's many forms and continuous evolution shows their movement toward manhood - while also their continued struggle in the internal rankings of the group. You had to do it well and be up to date or suffer the consequences. Such a guy thing - too funny!
I like all of the discussion about food - the brands and the selections. I am a bit worried about the credit issue at the store...and why the parents are leaving the boys unattended for such long stretches of time.
This Randy character is interesting - the older kid still hanging around - a loser of sorts perhaps with his age group - but with a car and the ability to buy beer - and therefore elevated amongst this group to almost leadership. Will he be the one that gets them into trouble?
The lack of girls at this point in the story is interesting - and I look forward to seeing what happens when they appear - as I expect they will based upon a teaser line.
It's odd that Reggie - the younger brother - seems to be the more responsible one with a job at Burger King. While Benji continues to play and only towards the end of June does he think he might need to get a job.
Back to the status ranking - the car, Clive - cool, chicks, athlete, and the empty house seem to be what it takes to have some status in the group at least at one point in the day.
Looking forward to reading the next chapter as I try to catch up as quickly as I can.
03-10-2009 04:47 PM
I agree. I think the boys place importance on the handshake as a way to show they are cool. I am sure that the other boys feel just as incompetent as Benji with the handshakes but do not show it as much.
03-12-2009 04:47 PM
Don't know how I skipped this whole thread..... So here's my response:
Benji comments that "the rock" on the beach near his house serves as a racial barrier. White people won't walk much past it. What similar examples can you think of that exist today, even in your own community? How have racial barriers changed in the last 20 years? How have they stayed the same?
In my town the dividing line between Detroit and Warren is 8 mile. That used to be the "racial dividing line" now the new "line" is 12 mile. For the most part the people that live north of 12 mile don't do business south of 12 mile and they don't want the people that live south of 12 mile doing their business north of there. This is quite evident in the fact that when Wal-Mart moved from 12 to 14 mile rd. (in both places it is on the corner of Van Dyke and the mile road) people went nuts about it. People were petitioning the city to move the bus line off of Van Dyke to prevent "those" people from comming further north into the city. They tried to say that the area Wal-Mart wanted to move to wasn't ready to handle that kind of traffic. It was crazy. The thing I found the most "interesting" about this debate was that they weren't protesting the low wages and such that most Wal-Mart openings face, it was simply that they were moving it further into the "white territory".
I also did a paper on my city for school a few months ago and I was shocked at some of the information that I found. In 1995 a black family bought a home around 9 mile (just 1 mile north of the Detroit border) they were harrased, crosses were burned in their yard and the son was brutally beaten. Signs were posted to their house with racial remarks that I wouldn't really like to repeat. I was amazed that this occured less than 15 years ago!!!
Another interesting fact that I found was that until 2007 Warren, MI was listed as the Whitest City in America (of cities with a population over 100,000 I think). It is still on the top 10 and from talking to my neighbors that's exactly how they want it to stay. My one neighbor was integral in a protest against building a charter school around the corner from us. She went to city council meetings and walked in protests. The school did get built but she still calls it the "Black school" which is much nicer than what she called it the first time I talked to her about it. I mentioned that I didn't like the word she used, so she's changed her vernacular, but I know she hasn't changed her feelings.
I think that it's sad that its 2009 and even though we now have a black president so much racisim still exists in our country.